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Ducey issues orders on pet telemedicine, disaster aid request, dairy exports

Ducey issues orders on pet telemedicine, disaster aid request, dairy exports

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series
  • Updated

Fido can now get flea treatment by phone.

Or at least the prescription for it.

In the latest of a flurry of executive orders due to COVID-19, Gov. Doug Ducey directed that veterinarians may now use "telemedicine'' to diagnose and treat animals, the same way that medical doctors now use telephone and computer hookups to deal with their two-legged clients. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a public health declaration two months ago allowing all medical practitioners, including veterinarians, to use telemedicine to prescribe certain controlled substances to patients even if they have not conducted an in-person medical exam.

And last week the federal Food and Drug Administration said it won't enforce regulations requiring in-person animal examinations before certain drugs can be used.

In his order Wednesday, Ducey said the need to protect veterinarians "requires an expansion of veterinary telemedicine in Arizona for the duration of the state's public health emergency.''

This is about more than keeping vets safe, he added. 

"This order allows veterinary professionals to carry out their commitment to caring for Arizona animals, including house pets and farm animals, while Arizona residents practice physical distancing and limit their time away from home,'' Ducey said in a prepared statement.

Vets are barred from charging more for a telemedicine visit than they would for an in-person visit. Companies that provide pet insurance cannot deny coverage solely because the service was provided at the owner's home.

Actions on separate issues

Separately Wednesday, Ducey sent a letter to President Trump requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration from the federal government, "a procedural step to pull down necessary federal assets and resources to assist Arizona's COVID-19 response efforts.''

The declaration, if approved, would provide access to expanded mental health care, get legal assistance to low-income Arizonans, and expand food assistance and other services to low-income households affected by the virus.

Also Wednesday, Ducey asked federal officials for help for Arizona dairy farmers who are now having trouble exporting their products to Mexico.

In his letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Ducey noted that the Mexican Ministry of Health announced last week it would halt administrative operations through April 19. That means farmers can't get necessary waivers for import permits or other accommodations, he said.

"This has led to an effective halt of dairy products across the border to Mexico,'' Ducey wrote, adding tat he wants the pair to work with that country to find temporary alternatives to import permits.

Ducey said Arizona's dairy exports to Mexico last year were more than $150 million. 

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